Rating Adult overall
Disclaimer: I own none of the characters in this story and make
no profit from them
Summary: Set in the early 1940's, Spike is a G-man sent on
a mission in the Appalachian mountains to search for
and destroy illegal alcohol when he has an accident.
Xander is a moonshiner who takes him in.
The bus was nearly full, but Spike had been able to find a
seat towards the back.
He would have preferred the privacy of a seat by the
window where he could rest his head and sleep but if push
came to shove, he was just glad to be aboard and headed
in the right direction, for once in his life.
The sun was starting to just set and the interior of the bus
was dim. Looking around him he could see the other
passengers settling in for their own journeys. Trying to find
a position of comfort for the night.
They were an odd mix of humanity. All with their own
destinations and reasons for getting there.
Beside him, staring out the window was an older man.
Dressed in a suit that had definitely seen better days, it was,
however, clean and carefully mended by someone who must
have worried how he looked.
Glancing discreetly over his shoulder, Spike watched the
young couple behind him. They could hardly keep
their hands off each other. They must have been late
teens or early twenties, and wore obviously new,
matching, cheap wedding rings.
He had his arm around her shoulder and would
'accidentally' let his fingers wander and brush over her
This would cause her to giggle, as though it was always
an unexpected surprise. Glancing down, Spike noticed
her hand slip over and settle in his lap.
The young man moaned quietly and Spike turned his head.
Directly across the aisle was a young mother.
She had a baby in her arms and two more toddlers
wedged into the one seat next to her.
Rocking the baby, she spoke softly to the other two
and did her best to make them comfortable enough
to be able to sleep.
The fat middle aged man sitting in front of her was loudly
making note of the fact that he was not happy to be
sitting near children.
Every little movement caused him to turn and glare.
Each glare elicited an apology from the beleaguered mother.
Spike watched it all silently. He had his own thoughts and
What would he do if Xander wouldn't accept him back?
He had saved some money and even after buying his ticket,
paying his bills, and setting aside a little for food on the trip,
he still had a $20.00 bill.
It was hidden in his shoe and if worse came to worse, it
would buy him a return ticket.
He could always go back to the docks.
It was a thought more depressing than any he had ever
faced. Still, the one thing he was most proud of was the
fact that as bad as things got, he knew he wound not
return to the drink.
He had not touched liquor since that terrible day.
His last day with the man he loved.
No, no matter how this all turned out he would not find
the solutions in a bottle.
Checking the schedule once more in the last bit of light,
Spike knew they would be stopping for a quick bathroom
stop in a gas station in two hours.
He could easily sleep through that one.
A food stop was three hours later. Most of the passengers
must have been in bladder agreement as they were already
twisting, turning and positioning in their cramped seats
hoping for a few hours sleep.
Though Spike wished for the time passing mercy of
nocturnal repose, he knew he was way too nervous.
He also knew from the rustling and whispering sounds
behind him, he wasn't the only one who would not
Silently Spike watched the lives around him.
The hours and stops rolled by.
The young couple behind rarely got off the bus.
The were possibly getting off on the bus.
The old man beside him was a minimal.
A quick piss.
A sandwich and a cup of coffee.
That suited Spike who really didn't want to know.
One thing did become glaringly clear. The young mother
across the aisle was traveling on less than a shoestring.
Often he would hear one of the children fuss that they
Only when they became insistent did she reach into a
small brown bag under her seat and bring out an
apple or half a sandwich for them to share.
What made Spike speak to her, he couldn't say.
"Looks like you have your hands full, yea?"
The mother smiled creating tired little wrinkles at the
corners of her eyes.
"Yes. They have never traveled before and I'm afraid
they are a bit restless."
"Nonsense" Spike spoke quietly "They are very well
behaved. Are you taking them on holiday?"
The smile faded and she kissed the baby's head.
"No. My husband was drafted and we couldn't afford
to live on our own. My parents have agreed to take
us in. We are going there."
Spike could tell this was not an arrangement that had
been agreed to willingly. Probably on either side.
The upcoming war would change a lot of their lives.
He knew that due to his citizenship and the resulting
damage left to his heart by a case of childhood rheumatic
fever, he could not be drafted, but he didn't know
What if he just got him back only to lose him again?
The bus pulled in to a diner.
It was 4 a.m. and this would be the only stop of the
Gas, bathroom, food. They had 30 minutes.
The driver left no room for misunderstanding.
As Spike rose to go he noticed the mother sharing
some crackers and fruit with her children.
25 minutes and all were back in their seats and ready to go.
As they started out, Spike handed a brown sack to the
mother and nodded.
Looking inside, her eyes welled with tears as she saw
the sandwiches, milk, and cookies.
Clutching it close, she dropped her head
"I couldn't possibly accept so much from a stranger."
Spike grinned. "Names William. Pleased to meet you."
Returning the smile warmly she quickly divided the food
among the eager children.
"Thank you William. My name is Hope."
Spike chuckled. "Hope" That was what Xander would
have called a sign.
The day was bright and sunny. With the children's
tummies full they were cheerful and content.
Even the grouch in front of them seemed able to ignore
them in favor of the book he had brought to read.
Before dozing for a midmorning nap, Spike noticed the
old man beside him bring a picture out of his vest pocket
and run his thumb over it slowly.
It was a lovely lady. Though the picture was old an
worn, he could see the sparkle in her eyes.
"That the missus?" The old man jumped at Spike's
words, almost as though he had not noticed him
Taking one last look, he tucked it back quickly.
"Yes, she died last week of the cancer. Been together
The old man turned his face back to the window.
There was nothing to discuss.